March 25, 2010


Your past is behind you, Julianne

Grade: C –

Director: Atom Egoyan

Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

As a poor man’s Poison Ivy (now there’s an unlikely, unfortunate formulation), Chloe is a stock slice of erotica gussied up with a top-shelf cast, name-brand director, soft-focus lighting, and contemporary, usually translucent set designs. Otherwise, it’s a Skinemax refugee whose arthouse aspirations cannot compensate for a hammy, surprisingly tepid script that is high on titillation but low on dramatic tension.

When Catherine (Julianne Moore), a Toronto-based gynecologist (shades of Dead Ringers, or Eyes Wide Shut for that matter), suspects her husband, David (Liam Neeson), of cheating, frustration leads her to enlist the services of a call girl, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried, tarted up and dumbed down), to seduce him and report back her findings. Chloe soon begins regaling Catherine with the lurid details of their purported trysts, and as she toys with Catherine’s lapsed libido and emotional distance from David, the doe-eyed Lolita’s advances become decidedly more Sapphic.

Officially, the film is a remake of the 2004 French film, Nathalie…, which was written and directed by Anna Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel). It is also a return of sorts for director Atom Egoyan to the voyeuristic, sexual thriller roots of his breakout film, Erotica. Likewise, screenwriter – and former Duke professor – Erin Cressida Wilson rehashes the prurience found in her far superior script for Secretary.

Aside from its well-worn plot points, little is done to develop the characters beyond the status of unpleasant, sexually and emotionally dysfunctional haut monde. In particular, the title character proves little more than a tantalizing cipher whose motives are as unknown as they are obliquely insulting to women.

Ultimately, however, the storyline is one that begins benignly before turning trashy and, finally, just plain silly. Chloe is destined to be remembered by those sifting through the bargain bin at Blockbuster as “that movie where Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried get it on.”

Neil Morris

*Originally published at

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